Agenda and minutes

Kent Schools Admissions Forum
Monday, 14th June, 2010 9.30 am

Venue: Garden Room, Oakwood House, Maidstone

Contact: Geoff Rudd  (01622) 694358

No. Item


Minutes of the meeting held on 22 April 2010 pdf icon PDF 69 KB


RESOLVED that the Minutes of the meeting held on 22 April 2010 are correctly recorded subject to the amendment of Item 24 (2) (iii) to read “important” and not “impellant”.


Matters Arising


(1)         Mr Burleton referred to item 21 (3) of the Minutes and confirmed that the Diocese was in the process of seeking a replacement for Mr McBride. 


(2)         Reverend Genders referred to item 26 of the Minutes and advised the Members that they still had the opportunity to comment on the item.


(3)         Mr Dalton referred to item 26 (i) of the Minutes and sought clarification on the rationale of allocating Grammar Assessed pupils to an Academy where another grammar school was not nearby.  Mr Bagshaw advised that this decision was taken because a number of Academies are now located in selective areas of education and are wide ability schools. Academies are by definition able to be meet the needs of pupils across the entire ability range. In light of parents expressing concerns in previous years about their children being offered schools many miles from their home the LA offered a local wide ability school to grammar assessed pupils who were resident in the selective area of education and unable to secure one of their named preferences or where there was no grammar school within a reasonable travelling distance.


(4)          (i)     Mr Dalton suggested that some Academies did not have a selective policy and should not be considered as being able to meet wide ability needs.  This view was shared by Mr Luxmoore. 


(ii)        Mr Bagshaw explained that Funding Agreements for Academies and notice when set up was on the basis that they were Wide Ability Schools.  In selective areas with ‘G’ and ‘H’ Academies were seen as Wide Ability Schools.  Mr Bagshaw explained that Hextable is in a Comprehensive Area and where children living in a comprehensive area had been assessed as suitable for grammar school but unable to secure a local grammar place, the LA would offer the nearest school with a vacancy this would have been either the local comprehensive school or Academy depending on which was closer.


(iii)      Mr Cooke felt that the issue was more one of distance.  The Local Authority had been criticised in the past for sending ‘G’ assessed pupils across the County to another grammar school.  He commented that the Academies were new schools in their own right and that they should be recognised as such rather than the High Schools they replaced, e.g. Skinners Academy and not Tunbridge Wells High School.  In response to Mr Dalton’s concerns Mr Cooke confirmed that some ‘G’ assessed pupils who could not be offered a grammar school were offered Wide Ability Schools that were not Academies.


(iv)       Mr Bagshaw advised the Forum that the Local Authority was legally obliged to make an offer of a school on National Offer Day but that in practice parents would not be happy with any of the offers they received if they do not relate to one of the named preferences.


Reverend Genders requested that a policy view be ready for next year.  Mr Cooke confirmed that there was not a policy in the Cabinet that Academies  ...  view the full minutes text for item 30.


Constitution of Forum and Terms of Reference


(1)         Reverend Genders advised that he was still continuing to look at obtaining Business Link representation on the Forum.


(2)         Mr Rudd confirmed that he would be approaching Mrs Lissimore in the Governor Support Team to seek nominations for parent representation on the Forum.


Mr Rudd also confirmed that Reverend Canon Smith had announced his retirement and that a replacement from the Rochester Diocese would be needed.  Reverend Genders agreed to seek a replacement.  Mr Rudd confirmed that he would write to Reverend Canon Smith thanking him on the Forum’s behalf for his valuable contribution as a Forum Member.


Draft Local Authority Report to the Schools Adjudicator


(1)         Mr Bagshaw introduced the draft Local Authority to the School Adjudicator and referred to some of the points being made.  He invited the Forum Members’ views and comments for inclusion in the report.


(2)         (i)      Mr Bagshaw referred to Section 1 of the report and the item relating to the Fair Access Protocol.  He explained that more consistency was needed and that the original IYFA was clumsy with a clear need now for a co-ordinated approach.  He confirmed that he had raised concerns with the Attendance and Behaviour Service as in his view it is time the process is reviewed with a sharing of best practice to support those areas where it is less successful in delivering the required outcomes promptly.


(ii)        Mr Luxmoore advised the Forum that the Thanet Secondary Planning Forum strategy used had worked well but the time span in between the meetings was a difficulty.  He added that the issue of Looked After Children had caused problems in Thanet and the Thanet Forum had refused to co-operate with the Local Authority over this.  Mr Bagshaw agreed that the timing was a very important issue if the Local Authority was to comply with its Statutory Policy and there was clearly a need to keep an eye on this.


(iii)      Mr Luxmoore sought further clarification regarding hard to place pupils who may not be Looked After Children.  In response Mr Bagshaw confirmed that if the schools cannot place those pupils through the IYFA protocol the Local Authority can direct a school to take the pupil if it does not have grounds to refuse.


(iv)       Mr Luxmoore stated that he wanted to see Looked After Children and Hard To Place pupils dealt with in the same way.  Mr Cooke agreed that where possible this should be done through the IYFA Protocol but legally there was a difference between the two categories.  As an elected Member of the County Council he had parental responsibility for Looked After Children and there was a different timescale.  Any decision relating to Looked After Children was ultimately that of the Corporate Parent, i.e. the Local Authority.  Mr Bagshaw raised a concern that the difference in timing and law in relation to children in care, meant that there may be reservations from the LAC Advisors in including LAC in the normal IYFA process.  He stated that LAC children are afforded a level of priority from the outset, not when they have been out of a school for 30 days and as a result they should not come to panel other than in exceptional circumstances.


(v)         other than in exceptional circumstances as these Mr Stanley felt that the issue was more about children being educated than about placement and that in some areas relationships were at breaking point.  He emphasised the importance of sharing good practice.  Mr Bagshaw agreed that a framework needed to be in place that could challenge those schools that were failing to co-operate.


(vi)       Mr Dalton concluded that when the schools  ...  view the full minutes text for item 32.


Co-ordinated In Year Admissions


(1)     Mr Bagshaw advised the Members that he would be doing presentations for this to headteachers in a similar manner to the Secondary transfer process.  In his view Co-ordinated In Year Admissions will be a time consuming exercise.  He had little confidence that it would benefit parents.  There were likely to be approximately 15,000 in year admissions which would bring issues relating to staff resources and office accommodation.  There had been several meetings held to try to resolve the complexities.  Mr Bagshaw confirmed that a framework had been put in place however the question was would it be able to meet the time limits.  He advised that two sets of forms had been devised relating to where there were more than five vacancies in the year group or where the school was full in that year group.  He advised that parents would be able to complete the form at the school and that the Local Authority can then get offers out.  However, if the school is full more extensive information would be required.


(2)         Mr Dalton said there were concerns as at the moment headteachers try to work together to prevent unnecessary movement between schools.  Mr Bagshaw reported that schools would need to sign the form as well and that the Local Authority was trying to put together a fast track process. 


(3)         Mrs Young voiced her concern at the process and fully expected it to generate more appeals.


Dates of Future Meetings


(i)            It was agreed to look for an October 2010 meeting.


(ii)          Mr Rudd agreed to liaise with Mr Bagshaw and Reverend Genders regarding a date.